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Posted at 07:00 AM ET, 09/15/2011

Leading Off: Red Sox entertain Rays while holding on for dear life

Game of the day: Tampa Bay at Boston, 7:10 p.m. The Red Sox blew a chance to distance themselves from the Rays when they collapsed against Toronto on Wednesday, and now Boston enters this huge four-game series four games in front of Tampa Bay in the American League wild card race. Rookie right-hander Kyle Weiland will make just his fourth career start for the Red Sox on Thursday. In his last outing against Tampa Bay last week, Weiland allowed three runs on six hits in four innings of a Boston loss. The Rays will counter with right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (12-10), who has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 13 of his last 14 starts. Tampa Bay is 9-5 so far this season against Boston going into their final head-to-head series of the season.

Other game to watch: Cleveland at Texas, 8:05 p.m. The only other close playoff race remaining in the American League is the AL West, and the Rangers can add a half-game to their three-game lead while the Angels are idle. Texas right-hander Alexi Ogando (12-8) has stuggled over the past month after a blazing start, and will be looking for his first win since Aug.15. Cleveland right-hander Fausto Carmona (6-14) hasn’t earned a win since Aug. 17, but Carmona wasn’t very good before that either. Carmona is just 2-7 with a 5.16 ERA in 11 career starts against Texas.

Games you should have seen:

Detroit 6, Chicago White Sox 5 (10 innings) . Carlos Guillen went 3 for 5 and hit a tie-breaking RBI single in the top of the 10th inning to lead the Tigers to their 12th consecutive win. Chicago led 5-2 heading into the ninth inning when Detroit scored three times on a solo home run by Ryan Raburn and a two-run blast by Alex Avila. The Tigers — whose magic number to clinch the American League Central is down to 2 — last won 12 or more in a row in 1934.

Toronto 5, Boston 4. Adam Loewen’s two-run single was the key blow as Toronto scored three runs in the top of the eighth inning to stun Boston. Maligned Red Sox starter John Lackey overcame a shaky two-run first inning and left the game in the sixth with a 3-2 lead. Boston led 4-2 before reliever Daniel Bard surrendered the three eighth-inning runs on a hit, two walks and an error. The Red Sox have now lost six of seven heading into their weekend series against Tampa Bay.

Stat you should know: 19. Consecutive seasons the Pirates are guaranteed to finish below .500 after Pittsburgh lost its 82nd game of the season against the Cardinals. Since they were tied for first place in the National League Central on July 25, the Pirates have gone 14-35.

Star of the day: Phillies right-hander Roy Halladay pitched a six-hit shutout as Philadelphia clinched its fifth consecutive playoff berth with a 1-0 win over Houston. Halladay struck out seven and walked only one, tossing his first shutout of the year in his eighth complete game.

Chatter: “He must have a dumb manager. Dumb managers sit guys for 10 days and when they come out, they hit (five) balls hard. I must be pretty dumb.” – Tigers manager Jim Leyland, talking about second baseman Carlos Guillen’s big day against the White Sox. Before Wednesday, Guillen had not started since Sept. 3.

By Greg Schimmel  |  07:00 AM ET, 09/15/2011

 
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